Forecasts of a plunge of arctic cold from Canada into the U.S. Midwest and Northeast failed to prevent a decline of spot prices at most points Tuesday.

Modest warming trends in areas such as the South and Midwest tended to offset colder patterns in the Northeast and Rockies, resulting in losses ranging from about a nickel to about $2.25. Transco Zone 5 in the Mid-Atlantic recorded the top drop despite also having one of the day's largest quotes at $22.

Outside the Northeast, the market was pretty bearish in falling from about a nickel to the 30-cent area.

Numbers topped out with a quote of $22.95 at Transco's Zone 6-New York pool, according to IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) and NGI's survey, and most Northeast deliveries remained well above $10. However, ICE prices at the Leidy Hub in Pennsylvania fell nearly 35 cents into the mid $4.90s.

At the Houston Ship Channel, where relatively mild temperatures still prevail, prices fell about 20 cents while ICE trading volumes plunged from 470,200 MMBtu Monday to 260,400 MMBtu Tuesday, the online trading platform said.

Monday's rise of 0.3 cents in prompt-month futures was inconsequential to Tuesday's cash market, and it will have to struggle with negative guidance Wednesday after the January contract fell 16.5 cents (see related story).

AccuWeather.com said lake-effect snowfalls may continue to keep temperatures frigid in parts of the Midwest and Northeast through at least Wednesday.

Northwest was recommending "that customers buy sufficient supply to meet the colder temperatures" that are expected in the Pacific Northwest by Thursday.

Northern Natural Gas said its projections of average market-area temperatures at 3 Monday and 9 Tuesday would "warm" to about 19 Wednesday and 17 Thursday, compared to its normal system-weighted temperature of 21 degrees at this time of year.

A Midwest marketer said she was keeping busy buying gas for customers' heating load. There's no break of any significance in the regional forecast anytime soon, she added; conditions will get slightly warmer toward the end of the week but will still be pretty cold.

IAF Advisors analyst Kyle Cooper predicts a storage pull of 165 Bcf for the week ending Dec. 10. Stephen Smith of Stephen Smith Energy Associates said he looks for a modestly lower withdrawal of 162 Bcf. And Ron Denhardt of Strategic Energy & Economic Research expects a slightly larger draw of 166 Bcf.

Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evan projects a much-lower draw of 150 Bcf. He extended his forecast to draws of 162 Bcf and 143 Bcf for the weeks ending Dec. 17 and Dec. 24, respectively.

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